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Split names by using Convert Text to Columns

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The Convert Text to Columns Wizard is an easy way to separate simple cell content, such as first names and last names, into different columns.
Full name       First name   Last name  
Syed Abbas       Syed Abbas
Barbara Decker       Barbara Decker
Lisa Jacobson       Lisa Jacobson
Diane Margheim       Diane Margheim
Depending on your data, you can split the cell content based on a delimiter, such as a space or comma, or based on a specific column break location within your data.

Split content based on a delimiter

This method works best if your names have a similar format, such as "First_name Last_name" (where the space is the delimiter) or "Last_name, First_name" (where the comma is the delimiter).
Split "First_name Last_name" content
To complete these steps, copy the following sample data to a blank worksheet.
How?
  1. Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
  2. Select the example in the Help topic. Do not select the row or column headers.
Selecting an example from Help
  1. Press CTRL+C.
  2. On the worksheet, select cell A1 and then press CTRL+V.
  3. To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Tools menu, point to Formula Auditing, and then click Formula Auditing Mode.
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A
Syed Abbas
Barbara Decker
Lisa Jacobson
Diane Margheim
  1. Select the range of data that you want to convert.
  2. On the Data menu, click Text to Columns.
  3. In Step 1 of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard, click Delimited and then click Next.
  4. In Step 2, select the Space check box and then clear the other check boxes in the Delimiters section.
The Data preview window shows the first and last names in two separate lists.
Convert Text to Columns Wizard Step 2 of 3
 Note   If your list contains middle names, the full name will be distributed into three separate columns: first, middle, and last.
  1. Click Next.
  2. In Step 3, click a column in the Data preview window, and then click Text under Column data format.
Repeat this step for each column in the Data preview window.
  1. If you want to show the separated content in the columns next to the full name, click the icon at the right of the Destination box, and then select the cell next to the first name in the list (B2, in this example).
Destination of splitted contents
 Important   If you do not specify a new destination for the new columns, the divided data will replace the combined data.
  1. Click the icon at the right of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard.
Text to Columns Wizard Step 3 of 3
  1. Click Finish.
Split "Last_name, First_name" content
To complete these steps, copy the following sample data to a blank worksheet.
HideHow?
  1. Create a blank workbook or worksheet.
  2. Select the example in the Help topic. Do not select the row or column headers.
Selecting an example from Help
  1. Press CTRL+C.
  2. On the worksheet, select cell A1 and then press CTRL+V.
  3. To switch between viewing the results and viewing the formulas that return the results, press CTRL+` (grave accent), or on the Tools menu, point to Formula Auditing, and then click Formula Auditing Mode.
1
2
3
4
A
Abercrombie, Kim
Cavaglieri, Giorgio
Ito, Shu
Philips, Carol
  1. Select the range of data that you want to convert.
  2. On the Data menu, click Text to Columns.
  3. In Step 1 of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard, click Delimited and then click Next.
  4. In Step 2, select the Comma check box and then clear the other check boxes in the Delimiters section.
The Data preview window shows the first names and last names in two separate lists.
Convert Text to Columns Wizard Step 2 of 3
 Note   If your list contains middle names, the full name will be distributed into three separate columns: first, middle, and last.
  1. Click Next.
  2. In Step 3, click a column in the Data preview window, and then click Text under Column data format.
Repeat this step for each column in the Data preview window.
  1. If you want to show the separated content in the columns next to the full name, click the icon at the right of the Destination box, and then select the cell next to the first name in the list (B2, in this example).
Destination of splitted contents
 Important   If you do not specify a new destination for the new columns, the divided data will replace the combined data.
  1. Click the icon at the right of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard.
Convert Text to Columns Wizard Step 3 of 3
  1. Click Finish.

Split cell content based on a column break

You can also customize how you want your data to be separated by specifying a fixed column break location in the cell.
  1. Select the cell or range of cells, and then click Text to Columns on the Data menu.
  2. In Step 1 of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard, click Fixed Width, and then click Next.
  3. In the Data preview window, drag a line to indicate where you want the content to be divided.
Text to Columns Wizard Step 2 of 3 using fixed data format
Tip    To delete a line, double-click it.
  1. Click Next.
  2. In Step 3, select a column in the Data preview window, and then click a format option under Column data format.
Repeat this step for each column in the Data preview window.
  1. If you want to show the divided content in the columns next to the full name, click the icon at the right of the Destination box, and then click the cell next to the first name in the list.
Choose destination of extracted cell content
 Important   If you do not specify a new destination for the new columns, the divided data will replace the combined data.
  1. Click the icon at the right of the Convert Text to Columns Wizard.
Convert Text to Columns Wizard Step 3 of 3
  1. Click Finish.
Reference: Microsoft Help

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